Friday, February 24, 2012

Risen Star & Fountain of Youth Strong Preps

El Prado Stakes Debut   In Risen Star

The Risen Star Stakes (G-2) is the middle leg of Louisiana’s prep races for the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Bowling won the first leg, the Lecomte Stakes (G-3). The series cumulates with the Louisiana Derby (G-1) on April 1.

Over the last twelve years, only one winner of the Lecomte, Friesan Fire, has scored a victory in the Risen Star.

Since 2000, only Mucho Macho Man, last year’s Risen Star hero, has finished in the top three in a Triple Crown contest.

MrBowling3This year, MR. BOWLING (Istan - Goldilock's Bear, by Irish Tower) will attempt to pull off the Lecomte/Risen Star double. The son of second crop sire Istan held on by a desperate head to win the Lecomte. Mr. Bowling has a miler pedigree, so he should handle 1 1/16 miles, but it could be at the top of his distance range. Mr. Bowling’s damsire was a multiple stakes winner from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and he is the damsire of Canadian Champion Filly Knight’s Templar and Dubai Golden Shaheen (G-1) hero Proud Tower Too. Mr. Bowling is the first stakes winner produced by his dam Goldilock's Bear. She is a half-sister to Grade 1 sprint heroine Tarlow. Read Mr. Bowling’s pedigree profile. Mr. Bowling posted two good breezes and Larry Jones knows how to get them ready.

After winning his maiden, Z DAGER (MizzenZDager Mast - Fees Waived, by Wavering Monarch) came back to finish a hard closing second in the Lecomte Stakes. He has a speed laden pedigree, but his running style suggests that he can handle 1 1/16 miles. His sire’s dirt runners are best up to a mile. Damsire Wavering Monarch won the Haskell Invitational, but as a broodmare sire, his best offspring are sprinter/milers. Z Dager’s unraced dam is a half-sister to two listed stakes winning sprinters. Trainer Steve Asmussen scores with 26% of his beaten favorites next time out.

SharedPropertyPhotoFourFootedFotosOnly ½ length behind the top two in the Lecomte, SHARED PROPERTY (Scat Daddy - Yoursmineours, by Belong to Me) should be sharper in his second race of the year. His second crop sire Scat Daddy was represented by the El Camino Real Derby hero and the winner and third place finisher in the Southwest Stakes last week. Shared Property has quality in his distaff family. His dam won the Honeybee Stakes and his third dam produced Champion filly Epitome. Shared Property has posted two strong works for the Risen Star. His trainer Tom Amoss scores with 23% winners in their second race off of a layoff.

Mr. Bowling’s stablemate MARK VALESKIMarkValeski (Proud Citizen - Pocho's Dream Girl, by Fortunate Prospect) won his season debut sprinting and stretches out in the Risen Star. He has a miler speed on top and his dam won stakes races at 1 1/8 miles. She’s a half-sister to the stakes winning miler Waynes Crane. This distaff family produced the top handicap horse Silver Buck, the sire of Champion Silver Charm. Mark Valeski breezed a bullet six furlongs for the race.

After two embarrassing finishes racing past a mile, ADENA'S CHANCE (Limehouse - Little Krissy, by Kris S.) Is strongly hinting that he’d rather be a sprinter. Not too much of a surprise, as his sire Limehouse gets precocious sprinter/miler types. However, Adena’s Chance’s damsire did produce Breeders’ Cup winners and tends to lend stamina to the pedigree, so maybe in time he’ll stretch out. Adena's Chance has a modest distaff family. The only blacktype is owned by the second dam, who is stakes placed. Adena’s Chance’s trainer is 0 for 10 in graded stakes.

HERO OF ORDER (Sharp Humor - Ocean Sprite, by Ocean Crest) finished off the board in the Lecomte, then finished a neck behind his stablemate Adena’s Chance in an optional claiming sprint. Hero of Order has miler speed over stamina pedigree. His sire’s offspring win up to 1 1/16 miles. His damsire Ocean Crest, a son of Storm Bird, won the Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles and his second damsire, Gato Del Sol is a Kentucky Derby hero. Hero of Order’s dam was unplaced in two starts, but she’s a half-sister to G1 winner Things Change.

AFFORD (Street Sense - Unaffordable, by Unbridled) comes back in two weeks after an allowance win over the Fairgrounds dirt. He has the pedigree to love two turns. Afford is a half-brother to the stakes winning Fast Alex. Their dam is a half-sister to the grade 1 winner Til Forbid, who also placed in the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes. Owned and bred by the guy who brought us Street Sense, Afford’s trainer gets 18% winners with horses stretching out for the second time.

OptimizerOPTIMIZER (English Channel - Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy) did well over the turf and Polytrack last year, but hasn’t hit the board in his dirt tries. Not surprising, given his turf pedigree. The son of English Channel has a strong stamina oriented distaff family. His dam Indy Pick is a half-sister to the top race mare Finder’s Fee, heroine of the Matron (G1) at two and the Acorn (G1) at three, as well as other graded stakes events. Another half-sister, Freedom of Speech, produced the multiple stakes winning turf veteran T D Vance. Indy Pick is also a half-sister to a top steeplechaser and to Peter Pan runner-up Treasure Beach. This distaff family carries Phipps family bloodlines. The second dam Fantastic Find won the Hempstead along with other graded stakes and the third dam Blitey and fourth dam Lady Pitt are blue hens. The once great Lukas has just 2% stakes winners.

TED'S FOLLY (Wild Tale - Tricksword, by SwordTedsFolly Dance (IRE)) was a big fish in the little Remmington Park pond, but disappointed in the Lecomte when taking on better colts. Ted’s Folly is the first stakes winner produced by his sire. Wild Tale, a son of Tale of the Cat, is a Grade 3 placed sprinter. Ted’s Folly’s damsire is represented by eight stakes winners over dirt, but none have won a graded stakes over the surface. Ted’s Folly descends from a modest but hardy distaff line. He is the first stakes winner produced by his dam, Tricksword. She is a half-sister to a stakes placed runner. Trainer Wilson Brown is 0 for 2 in graded stakes so far this year.

ElPadrino PhotoCoglineseEL PADRINO (Pulpit - Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway) posted an eye catching victory over stakes placed Take Charge Indy last time out, earning a triple digit Brisnet speed figure in the process. El Padrino is clearly talented and loves the slop, but he has yet to win over a fast track. His distaff family is loaded with talented stars and the mares of this distaff line are excellent producers. His dam is a half-sibling to Tara Roma and Waldboro, Grade 2 winners. Read El Padrino’s pedigree profile. The formidable Pletcher barn wins with 24% shippers.

TIZANEXPENSE (Tiznow - Rezister, by Deputy Minister) has won his last two starts and he’s starting to put it all together. He has the pedigree to love going two turns. His sire and damsire get long-winded runners and Tizanexpense’s distaff line is filled with stout Argentinian stamina. Tizanexpense is a half-brother to two stakes placed runners and their unraced dam is a half-sister to Retoss, who beat the great Paseana in the Vanity (G-1). Tizanexpense posted to strong breezes for the Risen Star.



There’s some speed in the Risen Star, but only HERO OF ORDER is a clear front runner. He’s failed to stay 1 1/16 miles in two starts, but was barely beaten. If he can carve out very slow fractions, he might lull them and have something left in the stretch.

EL PADRINO seems to have it all. He has the looks, pedigree running style and pace figures to beat the field into submission. He’s also the only horse who has won at 1 1/16 miles over the dirt, albeit a sloppy track. There’s no reason to think that El Padrino can’t handle a fast track and Pletcher is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the Fairgrounds, having won the Risen Star in 2010 with Discreet Cat. Still, El Padrino will go off at low odds, so let’s take a look at some of the others.

Lecomte hero MR. BOWLING was hard pressed to hold at a mile. His stablemate MARK VALESKI is showing all the signs of running a big one. Z DAGER’S speed figures are on the rise and it’s dangerous to bet against Asmussen. SHARED PROPERTY ran a big one in his three year old debut and should move forward. The improving AFFORD and TIZANEXPENSE are late-maturing types who need two turns. On paper, AFFORD appears the faster of the two.




#1 AFFORD - longshot play

Pletcher Vs. Union Rags

            In FOY


Like the Risen Star, the Fountain of Youth is the second leg in a three race sequence of prep races for horses pointing to the Kentucky Derby. Contested at Gulfstream Park, the Florida series consists of the Holy Bull (G-3), Fountain of Youth (G-2) and Florida Derby (G-1).

2012 marks the first year that the Fountain of Youth will revert to 1 1/16 miles for the first time since 2004. Last year’s top three finishers in the Grade 2 contest didn’t contest the Kentucky Derby, but the field included eventual Preakness champ Shackelford. The last horse to pull off the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby triple was Thunder Gulch in 1995.

Just about every year, the Fountain of Youth is a strong competitive race and this year is no exception. The field of eight horses contains two promising youngsters from Todd Pletcher’s barn, the Holy Bull victor Algorithms and the track setting Discreet Dancer.

UnionRagsPhotoCoglianeseThe Grade 2 contest also includes last year’s powerhouse and early Kentucky Derby favorite, UNION RAGS (Dixie Union - Tempo, by Gone West). The strapping chestnut colt was beaten a head at 1 1/16 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after going widest of all. He’s making his three year old debut in the Fountain of Youth and has been working extremely well. Read his pedigree profile.

algorithms photocoglianeseUnion Rags faces off against the undefeated ALGORITHMS (Bernardini - Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance). This talented youngster gave a big horse laugh at his competition in the Holy Bull Stakes, winning by a widening five lengths. The Pletcher trainee is a half-brother to the graded stakes winners Keyed Entry and Justin Philip as well as listed winners Successful Mission and Alex’s Allure. The last two colts to complete the Holy Bull/Fountain of Youth double were Quality Road in 2009 and Scat Daddy in 2007. Read his full pedigree profile.

DiscreetDancerAlgorithms’ stablemate DISCREET DANCER (Discreet Cat - West Side Dancer, by Gone West) burst upon the racing scene with a track-record setting performance gong 5 ½ furlongs in his debut. The lightly raced colt has destroyed his competitors by a combined 15 ¼ lengths I n just two starts. Discreet Dancer’s second crop sire hasn’t had a winner past a mile over the dirt in the US, but one of his sons won a novice race at 1 1/8 miles in Japan. Discreet Dancer is a half-brother to the speedy Travelin Man, winner of last year’s Swale Stakes at Gulfstream.

CasualTrickAfter a second place finish in the Gulfstream Derby, CASUAL TRICK (Bernardini - Casual Look, by Red Ransom) ineffectually chased the pace in an allowance claiming race held over a sloppy Gufstream track. He needed binoculars to see the winner of that race, El Padrino. That one is favored to win the Risen Star. Casual Trick is a son of this year’s first crop sire sensation Bernardini. Casual Trick’s dam placed in a Group 2 as a juvenile and won the Epsom Oaks (Gr.1). This distaff line produced the brilliant Magnificience, who set a new stakes record in the Santa Paula. Casual Trick has been working strongly at Palm Meadows and should bounce back in the Fountain of Youth.

Two local horses take on a tougher class in the Fountain of Youth.

FortLoudonPhotoJimLisaFORT LOUDON (Awesome of Course - Lottsa Talc, by Talc) ruled South Florida with a sweep of the Stallion Stakes, but hasn’t been competitive since stepping into the Graded Stakes pool. Fort Loudon is a half-brother to the dam of the multiple graded stakes winning miler Jackson Bend. Trained by top South Florida conditioner Stanley Gold, Fort Loudon can sit anywhere in the race and has been working well, but at this point in his career, appears a cut below this group.

The other local horse, CSABA (Kitten's Joy - High Chant, by War Chant) is carving out a niche as a wet track specialist. He’s won two of three races over an off track. He has a strong turf pedigree, but wound up fifth, beaten only 2 ½ lengths in his first try over the lawn. Csaba could be the anomaly turf bred horse who prefers dirt, but his best chance might come if his connections pray for rain.

NECK 'N NECK (Flower Alley - Bootery, by Storm Boot) adds blinkers after a gaining fifth place in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last time out. Previously, he got up to be the best of the rest behind Discreet Dancer. Neck N’ Neck has no notable blacktype in two generations of his distaff line. The Ian Wilkes barn gets 8% winners with horses adding first time blinkers.

NEWS PENDING (Harlan's Holiday - Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan) was beaten by a desperate nose in a maiden race over the dirt at Belmont last year, but otherwise, has not taken to the surface. His dam was a fading fourth in her only dirt race, but won over the turf from a mile to 1 1/8 miles. She’s a half-sister to the multiple stakes winning sprinter Adore The Gold.



Track bias: Inside posts rule at Gulfstream around two turns. That’s because there’s a very short run to the first turn and those on the outside don’t have time to get a good position.

All eyes and much of the money will be on UNION RAGS. He doesn’t need to win, just run well. DISCREET DANCER has a decent post position and appears to be the controlling speed, but he probably doesn’t need the lead to win. ALGORITHMS and CASUAL TRICK should be close to the pace.




#4 CASUAL TRICK – longshot


Monday, February 20, 2012

Southwest Stakes Contentious

This year’s edition of the Southwest Stakes attracted the attention of trainers around the country. Most likely thought it would be a nice, soft spot for their charges to gather graded stakes earnings on their quest for a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Consequently, the Southwest Stakes was split into two divisions with full fields in both races. The only other time the Southwest was split was in 2002. Let’s look at some entrants that have a shot to finish in the money.

UNBRIDLED'S NOTE (Unbridled's Song - Siberian Fur, by Siberian Express) was an easy maiden winner last year at Churchill and enters the Southwest with a series of good works. The bay colt has plenty of stamina in his pedigree. He’s a half-brother to Alabama and CCA Oaks winner Spoken Fur.

JAKE MO (Giacomo - Credit Approval, by With Approval) was a deceptively good fourth, beaten only 1 ¾ lengths in the Smarty Jones Stakes. He was making his first start of the year and can improve. However, his works are average and the Milligan barn is 0 for 11 in graded stakes races. Jake Moe is a half-brother to a stakes placed turf sprinter and his second dam Coastal Connection is a Grade 3 winning miler.

LONGVIEW DRIVE (Pulpit - Wild Vision, by Wild Again) had a nice debut in the Sham Stakes, leading until the end, beaten only a length. Longview Drive is a full brother to Louisiana Derby hero Pyro. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer wins with 30% of his shippers.

JUNEBUGRED (Corinthian - Dixie Melody, by Dixieland Band) came up the rail bravely to win the Smarty Jones Stakes by a desperate neck. He’s a half-brother to stakes winner Joe Six Pack and their dam is Grade 2 stakes placed. The chestnut colt popped a bullet 4 furlongs in his last breeze.

RECKLESS JERRY (Cactus Ridge - Miss Moneywise, by Crafty Prospector) ground out a second place finish, beaten just a neck by Junebugred in the Smarty Jones. Reckless Jerry has sprinter speed through his sire and damsire. He’s out running his pedigree, as there is no notable blacktype in his distaff line, yet he’s never finished out of the money.

RING IT UP (Toccet - Noontime Angel, by Successful Appeal) was second best to Cyber Secret last time out, beaten 5 ¼ lengths. It was 13 lengths back to the third place finisher. Ring It Up has a sprinter/miler pedigree and should appreciate the cut back in distance. His unraced dam is a half-sister to two listed stakes winners. Ring It Up shows a nice Brisnet speed figure progression in his last three races. He came back with a bullet five furlong work after his last start.

At this point, LAURIE'S ROCKET (Bluegrass Cat - Clay's Rocket, by American Chance) appears to do his best work as a sprinter. He’s a versatile colt who can win from on or off of the pace. He dueled the whole way on the lead in the Smarty Jones, but weakened to finish fifth, beaten two lengths by Junebugred. Laurie’s Rocket is a half-brother to Greeley’s Rocket, who placed in four stakes at two and won a listed stakes at three. His dam is a stakes placed half-sister to the Grade 1 stakes heroine Adieu, the G3 stakes winners Direct Line, Rappaport, and listed stakes winner Speak Wisely.

The slowly maturing CASTAWAY (Street Sense - Priceless Storm, by Storm Cat) finally won his maiden when stretching out around two turns. He has one of the best pedigrees in the field. His dam is a half-sister to the graded stakes winners Master Command and Aurora Lights. The second dam is a full sister to the sire Lost Soldier and G1 heroine La Gueriere, dam of the top mare Icon Project and grand-dam of sprint specialist Munnings. Other top runners in this family include the top turf runner Honor In War, Al Mamoon and Super Derby hero Apart. Trainer Bob Baffert wins with 29% of his shippers.



Track bias: 23% of the horses that get the lead wire the field, but the majority of winners are pace pressers, getting 37% of the wins. Late pace runners do as well as the front runners, and one-run closers get up 17% of the time.


Longview Drive

Unbridled's Note

Reckless Jerry - longshot pick

Southwest Stakes Division 2

In Division 2 of the Southwest Stakes, even money favorite SECRET CIRCLE (Eddington - Ragtime Hope, by Dixieland Band) ships in for Bob Baffert after a ½ length loss in the Sham Stakes in his three year old debut.

CYBER SECRET (Broken Vow - Stomping, by Dixieland Band) appears to be Secret Circle’s main competition. Cyber Secret demolished optional claimers last time out and the second place finisher of that race, Ring It Up, is entered in the first division.

ADIRONDACK KING (Lawyer Ron - Jostle, by Brocco) has the pedigree to go long. He was up for third in the seven furlong Pasco in his three year old debut and should improve with racing and distance.

PEE H DEE (Tale of the Cat - Trillion Wing, by In the Wings (GB)) should also improve with distance. He’s a half-brother to PaPaw Bodie, a Grade 3 turf router. Their second dam won the Grade 2 Davona Dale and his third and fourth dams are graded stakes winners.

The pretty gray Z ROCKSTAR (Rockport Harbor - Nasty Little Star, by Nasty and Bold) finished a neck behind Pee H Dee in a hotly contested one mile allowance race last time out. Z Rockstar’s dam is a stakes winner. The colt has finished out of the money only once in seven starts.

SCATMAN (Scat Daddy - Hit It Here Cafe, by Grand Slam) stretches out after beating optional claimers in his first race of the season. He gets plenty of stamina on his distaff side from his damsire Grand Slam and second damsire Strawberry Road.

APPREHENDER (Posse - Missy's Mirage, by Stop the Music) also stretches out after demolishing a field of maidens in his debut. He has plenty of speed in his pedigree. His sire gets mainly sprinters and Apprehender’s dam is a multiple graded stakes winning sprinter.

After beating maidens in his three year old debut, CHALYBEATE SPRINGS (Dynaformer - Chaposa Springs, by Baldski) was rushed back two weeks later in the Lecomte, where he finished an embarrassing 22 ½ lengths behind Mr. Bowling. Chalybeate Springs has one of the best pedigrees in the Southwest Stakes. He is a son of Ballerina and Test heroine Chaposa Springs. His half-sister produced the UAE-G3 winner Mendip, but although four of his siblings raced, only two have won. Chaposa Springs is a half-sister to Met Mile winner and sire You And I. Chalybeate Springs’s second dam was a Champion in Peru.

KING CORAL (Limehouse - Pink Coral (IRE), by Sadler's Wells) showed nothing in his three year old debut in the Smarty Jones stakes and appears a cut below.

BIG WEDNESDAY (Repent - Foxey's Last Key, by Big Bold Sefa) won the Fitz Dixon Jr Memorial last October and picks a tough spot to make his three year old bow. He was unplaced in his only start over dirt last year.



It’s hard to pick against Secret Circle. If he gets into a battle with Scatman for the lead, he could be vulnerable. Cyber Secret can get the distance and could pull the upset. Adirondack King is geared for distance and should be sharper in his second start off of the layoff.

Cyber Secret

Secret Circle

Adirondack King

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Creative Cause Vs. The Rest

The seven furlong San Vicente Stakes is generally targeted by three year olds looking to advance their career in the sprinter/miler division. The last three winners of the San Vicente, The Factor, Sidney’s Candy and the filly Evita Argentina later became Grade 1 winners, The Factor and Evita Argentina as sprinters, and Sidney’s Candy as a turf miler.

CreativeCauseBenoitThis year’s edition of the San Vicente Stakes pits two Grade 1 winners against lesser competitors. The overwhelming favorite CREATIVE CAUSE (Giant's Causeway - Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) is using the San Vicente as a starting point on his Triple Crown journey. The pretty gray colt may not be fully cranked for his first time out, and he will prefer longer distances.

Creative Cause’s strongest challenge is expectedDrill 1 PhotoBenoit to come from DRILL (Lawyer Ron - Cat Dancer, by Storm Cat). The large chestnut colt won the Del Mar Futurity by a neck over Creative Cause last September. However, Creative Cause finished in front of Drill in two subsequent meetings. Drill hasn’t hit the board in his last four races. Read his full pedigree profile here.

AMERICANACTA lightly raced colt who could pull an upset is AMERICAN ACT (Quiet American - Revolutionary Act, by Boston Harbor). The bay colt is stretching out from a recent maiden win at 5 ½ furlongs, but has the pedigree to run two turns. American Act’s dam is a stakes winning sprinter, but otherwise, this female family is light on blacktype.

LET'S GET CRACKIN (Eddington - I'maknightschoice, by Knights Choice) makes his second start for trainer Craig Dollase and removes the blinkers. The dark bay colt ran his best race, speed figure wise, in the San Pedro over the Santa Anita dirt. Let's Get Crackin has a sprint orientated pedigree. His dam is out-performing her pedigree and is becoming a useful producer. Besides Let's Get Crackin, she bore his stakes winning half-sister R Nanee and his stakes placed half-brother Hopewell Heart. Seven of eight of Let's Get Crackin’s half siblings are winners and all have raced.

Two entrants, Smoking G and Captain Obvious, will be making their debut over dirt.

SMOKINGGSMOKING G (Smoke Glacken - Whitewashed, by Broad Brush) won his maiden last time out over the lawn, but he has a dirt oriented pedigree. The pretty gray colt has a sprinter/miler pedigree. Smoking G’s half-sister is a Group 3 winner in Puerto Rico and their dam is a stakes placed turf sprinter. Smoking G zipped a bullet five furlongs in his breeze for the San Vicente.

CAPTAINOBVIOUSCAPTAIN OBVIOUS (Choisir (AUS) - Taqqara (IRE), by Spectrum (IRE)) is cutting back in distance and trying dirt. He was a distant fourth behind Liaison over the Hollywood Cushion Track in the CashCall futurity. Captain Obvious has the pedigree of a turf router. None of his sire’s progeny have come in the money in dirt stakes races. Captain Obvious’ damsire is represented by three stakes placed dirt runners, including the graded stakes placed maiden Brother Francis. Captain Obvious adds blinkers and the Cecil barn gets 5% winners with that move.



AMERICAN ACT and SMOKIN G have the speed to blaze out of the gate and keep going. Since both are recent maiden winners, it’s anybody’s guess if they have the class to hold off CREATIVE CAUSE. That one has been working well and should outclass his opponents even if he isn’t at his best. LET’S GET CRACKIN could be in the money should one of the top three falter. DRILL hasn’t progressed since his two year old season. He’s been racing non-stop since last July and appears to be a tired horse. CAPTAIN OBVIOUS could surprise over the dirt, but it’s doubtful.




Friday, February 17, 2012

CA Derby and Oaks Champs Vie in El Camino Real Derby

In the last eleven years, the El Camino Real Derby (G-3) has lost some stature. Only one horse, 2003 third place runner Ten Most Wanted has finished in the money in a Triple Crown race. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the El Camino Real Derby produced two Kentucky Derby winners, Gato Del Sol and Charismatic, who finished second in their respective El Camino Real Derbies. Snow Chief and Tabasco Cat won the Northern California race and each became winners of Triple Crown races. Special mention to El Camino Real hero Cavonnier, who placed in the 1996 Kentucky Derby.

This year, nine colts and a filly vie to become the next El Camino Real Derby champ. The 1 1/8 mile event will separate the sprinter/milers from horses that can run a route of ground and have the pedigrees to be true Triple Crown competitors.

RussianGreekPhotoVassarPerennial leading Golden Gate conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer has entered the California Derby and Oaks winners, Russian Greek and Lady of Fifty. RUSSIAN GREEK (Giant's Causeway - Sand Dollar, by Grindstone) has the pedigree to run all day. His sire is already classified as a Classic Chef de race, which indicates that he imparts stamina to his offspring. Russian Greek’s damsire is Kentucky Derby hero Grindstone, and adding even more stamina to the mix is Russian Greek’s second damsire, the heroic Triple Crown runner-up Alydar. Russian Greek has a classy female family. His half-sister Ocean Current is stakes placed and their dam is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Cat Thief. Russian Greek’s second dam is a Grade 3 winner and third dam Track Robbery was 1982 Champion Older Mare. Russian Greek enters the El Camino Real with victories in the Gold Rush and California Derby under his girth.

The other Hollendorfer entrant is the filly LADY OFLadyOfFiftyPhotoVassar FIFTY (After Market - K. D.'s Shady Lady, by Maria's Mon). The pretty gray miss also has a stamina-oriented pedigree. Her sire was a top turf router and her damsire produced two Kentucky Derby champs. Lady of Fifty is a half-sister to the stakes wining turf miler Forestry Steel. Their dam placed in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes and two listed events, while their second dam Annie’s Apple was also stakes placed. Lady of Fifty has been beating up on the filly division at Golden Gate. She’s won her last three starts, all stakes races, including the California Oaks.

Cahill Chrome, Senor Rain and Unveiled Heat, the second, third and fifth place finishers in the California Derby come back for another shot at Russian Greek.

CAHILL CHROME (Cahill Road - Takes Two to Mango, by Bold Badgett) was defeated 2 ¾ lengths combined in the Gold Rush and California Derby by Russian Greek. Cahill Chrome’s sire is a full brother to Kentucky Derby winner and top sire Unbridled, while damsire Bold Badgett is an unraced full brother to Kentucky Derby/Preakness runner-up Desert Wine. Cahill Chrome’s pedigree is borderline for getting 1 1/8 miles. Although his damsire has a stamina oriented pedigree, his offspring and that of his daughters rarely win past 1 1/16 miles. Cahill Chrome is a half-brother to the stakes placed sprinter Two To Get Ready and their dam is a stakes winning sprinter.

SENORRAINIn his first try over Tapeta, SENOR RAIN (El Nino - Make My Marq, by Marquetry) hung in the stretch of the California Derby, winding up third, 2 1/3 lengths behind Russian Greek. Senor Rain has an obscure pedigree. He is the only black type runner produced by his sire. El Nino’s best finish was a third place in the Amsterdam Stakes (G-2). Senor Rain’s unraced dam is a half-sister to a stakes placed runner, but this distaff family is mostly compiled of hardy bread-and-butter types.

The late developing UNVEILED HEAT (UnusualUNVEILEDHEAT Heat - Lift the Veil, by Cure the Blues) needed eight tries to win his maiden. A month later, he finished fifth in the California Derby while racing three wide. He was beaten only 3 ½ lengths by Russian Greek in a good effort. The son of top California sire Unusual Heat has the pedigree to enjoy going long. Although his damsire never won past 1 1/6 miles, his daughters have produced stakes winners up to 1 ¼ miles. Unveiled Heat’s distaff line is modest, but tough. His dam and second dam are unraced, but all of Unveiled Heat’s six half siblings are winners, and two are listed winners.

HANDSOMEMIKETwo sons of second crop sire Scat Daddy will try the Tapeta for the first time. HANDSOME MIKE (Scat Daddy - Classic Strike, by Smart Strike) faltered in the final stages of the CashCall Futurity after setting the pace. He came back in the Sham Stakes (G-3) but had no response over dirt, and was soundly beaten by 5 ¾ lengths. Handsome Mike’s sire Scat Daddy is making a name for himself as a sire of turf/synthetic runners, but so far, his progeny appear to have distance limitations. Handsome Mike does receive stamina through his distaff sire Smart Strike and his dam’s sole win was at 1 1/8 miles over the turf. Handsome Mike will wear blinkers for the first time and the O’Neil barn gets 15% winners with that angle.

The other son of Scat Daddy, DADDY NOSE DaddyKnowsBestPhotoCoglineseBEST (Scat Daddy - Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch) has competed steadily over the turf since last July. He’s flashed some sporadic talent, beaten only 3 ¼ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after a four-wide run, but he has a history of finding trouble and being rank. Scat Daddy’s female family offers some stamina through damsire Kentucky Derby hero Thunder Gulch and second damsire, Preakness winner Pine Bluff. Daddy Nose Best ‘s distaff line is fairly modest. His dam was winless in seven attempts, but his second dam was a turf stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles.

LuckyChappyPhotoBarbaraLivingstonLUCKY CHAPPY (High Chaparral - Germane, by Distant Relative) races for the connections of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Lucky Chappy has shown plenty of talent, but has yet to break through with a win in the US. The pretty gray colt has one of the classiest pedigrees in the field. The five tail sires and the first through third damsires in Lucky Chappy’s pedigree are all Champions. Lucky Chappy is a half-brother to two stakes placed runners. Their Group 3 winning dam is a half-sister to two stakes winners. Additionally, Lucky Chappy has inbreeding to the blue hen Lalun through her sons Bold Reason and Never Bend. As one would expect, Lucky Chappy’s sire gets mainly turf runners, but he does have a few winners over Polytrack.

After blitzing maidens at Golden Gate,Rockinarz Recruit ROCKINARZ RECRUIT (Our New Recruit - With a Flash, by Deputy Commander) was a distant third against state-bred optional claimers while sprinting over the dirt at Santa Anita. Rockinarz Recruit is only the third winner sired by Dubai Golden Shaheen Champ Our New Recruit. Rockinarz Recruit ‘s damsire is a Travers Stakes hero. However, as a broodmare sire, Deputy Commander has no stakes winners at 1 1/8 miles or farther. Rockinarz Recruit does have a touch of stamina through his female family, as his second dam With A Twist won the 1 1/8 mile Rare Treat Handicap (G-3).

ALLSQUAREDAWAYRecent maiden winner ALL SQUARED AWAY (Bellamy Road - Squared, by Posse) had his break-through win last time out at Golden Gate after competing unsuccessfully against maiden claimers at the Southern California tracks. All Squared Away has a sprint-orientated pedigree. His sire’s offspring are mainly sprinter/milers, however, he does have two winners at 1 1/8 miles. All Squared Away ‘s distaff family has a sprinkling of stakes winners. His unraced dam is a half-sister to stakes winner Plumlake Lady and his second dam is stakes placed.



Track Bias: Overall, the Tapeta track plays fair, although posts four and higher appear to have the slight advantage.

The last three editions of the El Camino Real Derby were won by So Cal invaders.

RUSSIAN GREEK appears to be the one to beat. He’s bested three of the eight entrants and there doesn’t appear to be much in here to beat him. Still, as we’ve often seen, anything can happen in a horse race, so let’s take a look at some other possibilities.

There appears to be some early speed in the race

to run with LADY OF FIFTY, although she’s proven that she doesn’t need the lead to win. HANDSOME MIKE has been competing against the top So Cal colts. He was beaten only three lengths by Liaison in the CashCall, but went wide in the Sham. He may be just a synthetic/turf runner and this is probably farther than he wants to go, but Handsome Mike’s BRIS speed figures are improving and he’s making his third start off a layoff. The gritty SENOR RAIN has been out-running his pedigree. He’s been ambitiously placed against some nice horses and has finished out of the money only once in his eight race career. ROCKINARZ RECRUIT is the speed of the race. He freaked against maidens, getting six furlongs in 1:09 3/5. He’ll be winging it on the lead and they’ll have to catch him. DADDY NOSE BEST has a high profile trainer/jock combo, but distance is a serious question mark. LUCKY CHAPPY has the pedigree and some class, but is experimenting with Tapeta. He’s at pretty low odds for an experiment.





Friday, February 10, 2012

Sprinters in the Spotlight in Hutcheson Stakes

Although the Hutcheson Stakes (G-3) is considered a prep race for the Florida Derby and ultimately, the Triple Crown, many Hutcheson winners later became top sprinter/milers. Since the golden years of the 1970’s, the only two horses to win both the Hutcheson and a Triple Crown race were the incomparable Spectacular Bid and Belmont Stakes hero Swale. Honorable mention goes to Hutcheson runners up Crème Fraiche, who won the Belmont Stakes and Forty Niner, who placed in the Kentucky Derby.

ThunderMoccasinThis year, a competitive group of five colts will vie for the Hutcheson Stakes trophy. Morning line favorite THUNDER MOCCASIN (A. P. Warrior - One Stormy Mama, by Storm Cat) breezed to a 2 ½ length victory in his only start. The runners up later came back to win. Thunder Moccasin’s dam is a half-sister to a listed winner and his second dam was a stakes winning turf miler. The Pletcher-trained colt tossed a bullet 4 furlong work in his last move.

II VILLANO (Pollard's Vision - Do the Wekiva, byIlVillano photo Barbara Weidi Wekiva Springs) is back to sprinting after fading to third behind Alpha in the stretch of the Count Fleet Stakes. This is a brilliant front running sprinter with :21 speed. He won three sprints by a combined 17 ¼ lengths, two of which were listed stakes. Il Villano‘s distaff family is modest. He’s the only colt and stakes winner produced by his dam. She was winless in six tries, but is a half-sister to two stakes placed runners. The pretty gray colt likes to run them off of their feet early.

EverSoLuckyKentucky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up EVER SO LUCKY (Indian Charlie - Bally Storm, by Summer Squall) has scratched from the race due to poor weather and training cnditions.  His conditioner Jonathan Sheppard said that they'll point towards the Swale Stakes on March 10.

The longest shot on the board at 12-1, WildcatCreekWILDCAT CREEK (Wildcat Heir - Prettyatthetable, by Point Given) just missed in two stakes races at Tampa. The son of top Florida sire Wildcat Heir, Wildcat Creek is a half-brother to the multiple Graded Stakes winner Pomeroy’s Pistol, who incidentally loves the Gulfstream track.

Recent maiden winner QUICK WIT (Sharp Humor - Thank the Academy, by Royal Academy) comes back in just two weeks for trainer Dale Romans. Quick Wit’s full sister Find the Humor placed in the Iowa Oaks and their second dam was a stakes winner around two turns. The Hutcheson Stakes will be Quick Wit’s third start in three weeks.

TarpysGoalPhotoVanessaNgStepping up from optional claiming company, Quick Wit’s stablemate TARPY'S GOAL (High Cotton - Terre des Hommes, by Exbourne) was victorious on the same day that Quick Wit won his maiden. Tarpy’s Goal was the first winner for his sire. Tarpy's Goal has miler speed mixed with strong European stamina. His damsire won the Hollywood Gold Cup (G-1) at 1 ¼ miles over the turf, as well as the Shoemaker Mile and other graded stakes. Tarpy's Goal’s dam is a half-sister to the sire Running Stag, and also to the grand-dam of the Grade 1 winning sprinter Street Boss.

None of the contestants have raced over an off track, although Il Villano has won over a track labeled “good,” plus there’s no lack of speed in the Hutcheson, but the pretty gray colt can throw a :21 ¾ first quarter and keep on going. Wildcat Creek also has a pedigree suited to an off track. He finished a half-length short of Prospective in the Pasco, and that one came back to place in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last week.  Quick Wit can rally from off of the pace. He shows an even progression in each race and appears to be putting it all together
#5 Il Villano
#2 Wildcat Creek
#4  Quick Wit

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Graded Stakes All Around The Town

Today the quest for a starting berth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby continues with graded stakes races around the country. At Aqueduct, Count Fleet hero Alpha is the even-money favorite to secure the Withers (G-3), which is the next step in New York’s series of Triple Crown prep races. In sunny Florida, eleven colts will vie at Tampa in the Sam F. Davis (G-3). You can read the analysis of the Sam F. Davis here. On the other side of the country, CashCall Futurity victor Liaison renews his rivalry with Rousing Sermon and faces six other colts in California’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G-2).


Alpha Photo coglineseCount Fleet Stakes hero ALPHA (Bernardini—Munnaya, by Nijinsky) returns in the Withers Stakes on Saturday. He faces previously conquered foes and allowance class runners hoping to earn an elusive spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. The son of Bernardini has the class and pedigree to tower over his opponents, but there are some newcomers who can give him a challenge.

The light went on for TIGER WALK (Tale of thetigerwalkPhotoSagamorefarm Cat - Majestic Trail, by Kris S.) in his last two starts, beating lesser rivals at Laurel by a combined 6 ¼ lengths. His works have picked up and now he’s ready for a class test. Tiger Walk should improve with distance. His unraced is a half-sister to Norfolk Stakes hero Supremo and to a German stakes winner. His third dam is top mare Andover Way, dam of the international stallion Dynaformer and she is a grand dam of the G1 winner Offlee Wild. Tiger Walk’s fourth and fifth dams are blue hens.

A colt with that is starting to put it all together is HAKAMA (First Samurai - Check, by Unbridled). Like Tiger Walk, Hakama won his maiden and came back to score over a group of allowance runners. Offspring of First Samurai are miler types, but Hakama receives some stamina attributes from his damsire, Kentucky Derby hero Unbridled. The Claiborne bred colt has a quality distaff family. His unraced dam is a half-sister to four stakes winners, three of whom are Grade 3 winners. Two other half siblings are Grade 3 stakes placed. Hakama will attempt to take them wire to wire.

swag-daddy PhotoCoglianeseOne of the only sons of Scat Daddy to take to the dirt, SWAG DADDY (Scat Daddy - Mrs. Filio, by Eastern Echo) has won three of his last four starts in state-bred company. Swag Daddy has a miler-type pedigree. He should handle two turns but could be suspect at 1 1/8 miles or farther. He’s a half-brother to two stakes placed runners. Swag Daddy’s second dam is a stakes winner and his third dam Mrs. Warren is a multiple Grade 1 winner, so there’s some back class in his pedigree. Swag Daddy has a versatile running style and experience over the Aqueduct track.

Florida invader KING KID (Lemon Drop Kid - Very Very, by Royal Academy) was third behind Reveron in the Gulfstream Park Derby in only his second start. Reveron is entered in today’s Sam F. Davis Stakes (G-3) at Tampa. This is a colt with a slow maturing pedigree who should love distance. King Kid has strong turf attributes, so if he underperforms here, he may head to the turf. King Kid’s dam won her maiden going 1 1/16 miles over the dirt, but eventually found her niche as a turf miler. An allowance class mare, she won a listed stakes near the end of her five year career. King Kid is a young, developing colt, but he is up against more experienced rivals.

HOW DO I WIN (Corinthian - Silver Crown, by Distorted Humor) received a 6 ¼ length drubbing from Alpha in the Count Fleet Stakes and comes back for more in the Withers. How do I Win’s first crop sire was a top sprinter and his offspring are sprinter/milers. So far, he is represented by one winner past a mile. The pretty gray colt’s dam Silver Crown is a multiple stakes winning sprinter. She’s a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Powerful Punch and stakes winner Silvery topping. The second dam Silvery Topping was also a multiple stakes winner. How Do I Win does his best running on or near the lead, but his distance capabilities are currently suspect.

SPEIGHTSCITY (Speightstown - My AmericanSpeightscity photo Cindy Dulay Girl, by Quiet American) was ten lengths behind Alpha in the Count Fleet Stakes. So far, the son of Speightstown appears to be in the allowance/optional claiming class, as all of his stakes tries have resulted in off the board finishes. Speightscity has a speed over stamina pedigree. His sire, a Champion Sprinter, produces mainly sprinter/milers, but his sons, the aforementioned Shackleford and 2009 Count Fleet victor Haynesfield, are two who have been victorious past 1 1/16 miles. Speightscity’s damsire lends endurance. Speightscity’s half-sister won a listed sprint and his dam is multiple stakes placed. Her half sibling produced True North (G-2) winner Anew. The second dam is a G3 stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles. Speightscity has been working well, but unless something untoward happens, he’ll be no match for Alpha.


Track bias: Aqueduct’s inner track is known for its speed favoring surface. 62% of the races this meet have been won on the lead with 50% of the runners wiring the field.

It’s hard to pick against ALPHA. He has gate issues and still appears to be a bit immature, but he’s clearly talented. He faces a couple of newcomers that could turn the tables, notably TIGER WALK and HAKAMA. SWAG DADDY could be classy enough to jump up for a piece of the pie. I’m not convinced that KING KID is ready for this type of competition yet. HOW DO I WIN and SPEIGHTSCITY weren’t in ALPHA’s zip code in the Count Fleet.




#3 SWAG DADDY – longshot pick



The majority of the field in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G-2) faced each other in the CashCall Futurity in December. LIAISON came out on top by a neck in the 1 1/16 mile foray while ROUSING SERMON was a swiftly closing second. Liaison and Rousing Sermon will be meeting for the third time in their careers. So far, Liaison has narrowly beaten his rival in both contests. Fast forward two months to Saturday’s Robert B. Lewis, where Liaison and Rousing Sermon will face six other rivals. While both colts will likely go to the post at low odds, this is by no means a match race.

One colt worth a hard look is Liaison’s stablemateSKYKINGDOM SKY KINGDOM (Empire Maker - Sky Beam, by Kingmambo). The Bob Baffert trainee has a classy pedigree screaming for distance. Sky Kingdom’s dam is a half-sister to stakes winner Mambo In Seattle. His third dam is the blue hen Weekend Surprise, who is the dam of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, and three other stakes winners. Additionally, she’s also the grand-dam of the top grass horse Court Vision. Sky Kingdom was fourth in the CashCall, but clearly relished the switch to dirt when he came back to beat allowance class foes here last month. Sky Kingdom fired a bullet five furlongs in his latest work.

Empire WayAnother colt who should enjoy the surface switch is EMPIRE WAY (Empire Maker - Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy). This full brother to Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Royal Delta was tossed into the Prevue Stakes barely a week after winning his maiden. Empire Way come back in the CashCall and finished the race with good energy, only 2 ¾ lengths behind the leaders, despite a six wide trip around the final turn. Like Sky Kingdom, Empire Way will improve with maturity and distance.

Last out maiden winner GROOVIN' SOLO (Bob and John - Squall Linda, by Summer Squall) seeks a rematch in the RB Lewis Stakes. The half-brother to Norfolk Stakes (G1) winner Street Hero and Hollywood Futurity champ Premier Pegasus was pulled up in the CashCall after the reins broke. Trainer Myung Kwon Cho puts the blinkers back on Groovin’ Solo because he feels the colt is too distracted by the horses around him. The trainer is successful with adding blinkers 40% of the time. Groovin Solo has been working best of the rest at Santa Anita, as he’s posted two bullet works within the last month.

A possible longshot worth some consideration isISNT-HE-CLEVER the Arizona invader ISN'T HE CLEVER (Smarty Jones - Sharp Minister, by Deputy Minister). The gelding has won three of his four lifetime starts and has improving speed figures. By Kentucky Derby hero Smarty Jones, Isn’t He Clever has a deceptively nice pedigree. He’s a half-brother to the English Group 3 miler Dijeerr and multiple stakes winner Sharp Writer. Isn’t He Clever’s dam was unplaced in two starts, but she’s a full sister to the multiple graded stakes turf router Flag Down and a half-sister is stakes placed. Isn’t He Clever will attempt to stretch his speed in the RB Lewis. His pedigree indicates that he should handle the distance.

ILLHAVEANOTHER2After a disastrous run in the Hopeful Stakes (G-1) over a sloppy track, I'LL HAVE ANOTHER (Flower Alley - Arch's Gal Edith, by Arch) returns to sunny California, gets a second chance over dirt and adds some distance. He’s an unusually precocious son of Flower Alley and has a pedigree that screams two turns. I’ll Have Another’s dam won her one and only start at six furlongs over the dirt and his two half siblings won their maidens within two starts, so I’ll Have Another’s win-early nature is typical for his immediate distaff family. His first few distaff generations are light on black type, but G1 winning sprinter Into Mischief is part of the family. Trained by Doug O’Neil, I’ll have Another has been training well at Hollywood, but he hasn’t raced in five months.

CHIPS ALL IN (North Light (IRE) - Maria'sChipsAllIn Mirage, by Maria's Mon) is the only son of North Light to win over the dirt. The winner of the Eddie Logan Stakes over the turf in his last start, Chips All In takes a class hike to see if he belongs on the Triple Crown Trail. While his dam was a stakes winning sprinter, Chips All In’s damsire Maria’s Mon sired two Kentucky Derby heroes and the progeny of North Light are mostly long winded runners like their sire.


Track Bias: 80% of the races this meet have been won by horses on or pressing the pace. One run closers take 14% of the races.

It’s hard to pick against LIAISON, who is on a three race win streak and his nemesis ROUSING SERMON, who was breathing hard down Liaison’s neck in their last meeting. The two sons of Empire Maker, SKY KINGDOM and EMPIRE WAY, could have a say in the race outcome, but their best races are ahead of them and they should be more effective at 1 1/8 miles and farther. They’re worth adding to exotics. ISN’T HE CLEVER is an intriguing newcomer and should handle the added distance. His trainer wins with 30% shippers, so we know he’s not here just to admire the scenery. GROOVIN SOLO deserves another shot at the big time. His pedigree isn’t as precocious as his half-brothers, but hopefully he shares their talent. CHIPS ALL IN is a head away from being undefeated. He has the right running style and if he hits the front, he may forget to stop.




#3 GROOVIN SOLO – longshot pick